Nine Astronauts from Four Different Space Agencies are on the International Space Station Right Now

The International Space Station’s usual complement of six astronauts grew by 50% recently, making things a little crowded up there. The nine astronauts come from four separate space agencies, and for the first time, an astronaut from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is onboard the ISS.

The ISS is a multicultural place. Astronauts from around the world serve on the station to advance the scientific goals of humanity and to build cooperative ties between Earth’s different peoples. It’s kind of like Star Trek, but in space.

Continue reading “Nine Astronauts from Four Different Space Agencies are on the International Space Station Right Now”

This Summer’s Asteroid Near-Miss Helped Greenlight NASA’s NEOCam Mission to Search the Skies for Killer Spacerocks

NEO asteroid

Last July, a once-in-a-lifetime event happened. Not the good kind; the football-field-sized-asteroid near-miss kind. And that near miss is the catalyst for a renewed effort from NASA to detect more dangerous space-rocks that might threaten Earth.

Last summer’s near-miss asteroid was named 2019 OK, and it passed within about 77,000 km (48,000 miles) of Earth. It managed to slip past all of our detection methods and came within 0.19 lunar distances to Earth. In astronomical terms, that is remarkably close.

We only had 24 hours notice that the asteroid was coming, thanks to a small telescope in Brazil that spotted it. That near miss has sparked a renewed conversation on planetary defense and on NASA’s role in it.

It also left people wondering how this could happen.

Continue reading “This Summer’s Asteroid Near-Miss Helped Greenlight NASA’s NEOCam Mission to Search the Skies for Killer Spacerocks”

Musk Shares the Latest Progress on the Starship Prototypes

SpaceX is getting closer to its making its next big leap with the Starship super-heavy launch system. With hover tests now complete, the public is eagerly awaiting the completion of the full-scale prototypes and for orbital testing to begin. Never one to disappoint, Elon Musk has been posting regular updates on Twitter showcasing the latest progress of the Starship Mk.1 and Mk.2.

Continue reading “Musk Shares the Latest Progress on the Starship Prototypes”

Io’s Largest Volcano, Loki, Erupts Every 500 Days. Any Day Now, It’ll Erupt Again.

Jupiter’s moon Io is in stark contrast to the other three Galilean moons. While Callisto, Ganymede, and Europa all appear to have subsurface oceans, Io is a volcanic world, covered with more than 400 active volcanoes. In fact, Io is the most volcanically active body in the Solar System.

Io’s largest volcano is named Loki, after a God in Norse mythology. It’s the most active and most powerful volcano in the Solar System. Since 1979, we’ve known that it’s active and that it’s both continuous and variable. And since 2002, thanks to a research paper in the Geophysical Research Letters, we’ve known that it erupts regularly.

Continue reading “Io’s Largest Volcano, Loki, Erupts Every 500 Days. Any Day Now, It’ll Erupt Again.”

Physicists Don’t Know the Mass of a Neutrino, But Now They Know it’s No Larger Than 1 Electron Volt

The Standard Model of Particle Physics is one of science’s most impressive feats. It’s a rigorous, precise effort to understand and describe three of the four fundamental forces of the Universe: the electromagnetic force, the strong nuclear force, and the weak nuclear force. Gravity is absent because so far, fitting it into the Standard Model has been extremely challenging.

But there are some holes in the Standard Model, and one of them involves the mass of the neutrino.

Continue reading “Physicists Don’t Know the Mass of a Neutrino, But Now They Know it’s No Larger Than 1 Electron Volt”

Astronauts Try Mixing Concrete in Space

What sounds like a slap-stick comedy shtick is actually solid science. With so much of humanity’s space-faring future involving habitats, other structures, and a permanent presence on the Moon and Mars, mixing concrete in space is serious business. NASA has a program of study called MICS, (Microgravity Investigation of Cement Solidification) which is examining how we might build habitats or other structures in microgravity.

Continue reading “Astronauts Try Mixing Concrete in Space”

Thanks to Trump, We’ve Got a Better Idea of the Capabilities of US Surveillance Satellites

The US President has done it again.

Just when you think things can’t get any more—”unusual”— in the White House, the President has Tweeted an American spy satellite image as part of a juvenile jab at Iranian leadership. After some sleuthing, astronomers were able to figure out which satellite it came from: a (formerly) top-secret satellite called USA 224, an optical reconnaissance satellite.

Continue reading “Thanks to Trump, We’ve Got a Better Idea of the Capabilities of US Surveillance Satellites”

Elon Musks Says that his Next Starship Could be Twice as Big

The past week has been pretty eventful for SpaceX. On Tuesday (Aug. 27th) at 05:00 PM local time (03:00 PST; 06:00 EST), the company conducted its second free-flight test of the Starship Hopper, which saw the test vehicle successfully ascend to 150 m (~500 ft) above the ground and then land in a different spot. This test brings SpaceX one step closer to orbital tests with their full-scale prototypes of the Starship.

But it was what came shortly after this successful test that has people buzzing right now. On Twitter, as Musk was sharing drone footage of the test, he mused about how big SpaceX’s next super-heavy launch system would be. According to Musk, the next-generation system (Starship 2.0, if you will) will be twice as large as the vehicle that is poised to send humans and cargo to the Moon and to Mars.

Continue reading “Elon Musks Says that his Next Starship Could be Twice as Big”